Saturday, July 11, 2015

Final Project Reflection

 The project that I chose to incorporate into this course was a digital presentation to utilize during home visits this summer.  The slides will provide parents with information about a tool that we currently utilize in our educational setting.  The use of “Family Message Journals” have been incorporated into the curriculum, but parents have not been exposed to research based evidence about their advantages.  
The slide show will enable parents to better understand the importance of communicating with their children about their learning through the use of journals.  My intention is to provide the “Digital Native parents” the option of responding to the journals with the use of technology.  The commodity of integrating technology will probably increase parent participation.  Since we are discovering the tools that manipulate young children they will probably engage in this activity with more enthusiasm.  The use of a word processor during writing has recently become one of my instructional tools; it allows my students to use technology within a constructivist approach to learning.  Parents will be able to respond while they are work, during their break, while waiting at a doctor’s office, etc.  In essence, what I am hoping for is to increase communication amongst students and parents.  Ted talk on Digital Natives 
I feel fortunate to work in a setting where parents are active participants in their child’s education, but the reality of responding to a journal in a traditional method is sometimes difficult for parents who work late hours or second shift.  I believe that giving them the option of digital responses will accommodate their busy life styles. 
After carefully reviewing some of the digital tools available to complete the final project for this course, I stumbled across “Animoto”.  Initially, I thought this was going to be a useful tool to help me create presentations for the parents during our home visits.  Although it was an interesting tool, my school does not have the funds available to purchase the application. Fortunately, there are many free applications available at our fingertips.  Most of them are simple to use and easily adapted for educators.  I chose to create a presentation with Google slides instead. Google slides allowed me to insert images from the internet as well as photographs from my own files.  It was the perfect tool for creating a presentation that was readily available for both teachers and parents; especially for the ones that prefer the use of technology. 
This course empowered me to research topics that were unfamiliar to me. 
The values that are portrayed in new films are powerful yet difficult to analyze from different perspectives.  I want to uncover more themes presented in cartoons and Disney movies since our children are strongly influenced by them.   Analyzing the two films, Brave and Frozen, shaped a misconception that I could not include films in my classroom.  In the past, I have tried to avoid showing films, but now,  I can distinguish it as an avenue to encourage critical thinking and conversations that will probably go beyond the classroom. While growing up digitally does not guarantee the development of digital literacy, educators need to have basic knowledge about who kids are and how they engage in the world.  “I want students to critique portrayals of hierarchy and inequality in children’s movies and cartoons.  Teachers need to support children in refining their views about popular culture. 
I like the familiar and perhaps this is why I consider myself a digital immigrant.  I have used technology in the past, but not to the extent that we have been exposed to it in the last two weeks.  This course transported me beyond my comfort zone.  I was challenged to overcome my fears of technology.  The journey was difficult, but the results were rewarding.  The support from my classmates was pivotal in this process.  Even thought there were some digital natives in the class, we shared similar concerns; the concerns that align with educators who want to integrate innovative teaching tools, but also embrace traditional learning strategies.  We navigated the journey with some bumps along the way, but we learned from each other. 
In looking back at my notes I noticed the difference between digital natives and digital immigrants is similar to comparing English Language Learners and Natives. A week ago I considered myself a digital immigrant. The connection between this course and my own personal experiences were interwoven as I submerged into my seat while listening to lecture on the first day of class.  I felt a close connection to the way I felt when I first moved to the United States; an immigrant who has recently arrived in a new setting and is trying to acculturate.  A week later, I felt like an immigrant who has surpassed the “silent period” in which an individual gains self-confidence in communicating ideas.  I am able to navigate the Internet to find innovative ideas and tutorials on how different applications can be combined to create interesting presentations. 
            Through collaboration, we shared concerns and opinions about gender bias in very creative ways.  The opportunity to use each other as resources simplified the activity.  It was an action based learning experience.   The presentations were to convey and some of the negative effect that media in delivering messages to young children.  It was interesting to read blog entries that commented on the same topic with opponent views. Everyone has different perspectives and opinions and as educators we need to encourage children to have conversations about their own views. 
We were presented with ample opportunities to collaborate with each other.  The design of our Blogs allowed me to learn about a tool that will enhance collaboration amongst my colleagues, since the majority of them are fluent digital natives.  I was skeptical about creating my own blog because I did not have the confidence or the guidance, but his course has empowered me to take necessary steps.
I believe that my colleagues will benefit from having an existing slide show that can be easily adapted to fit their grade level needs. Once I have finished with the slide show, it may be translated to the other languages that we teach and posted on our school website.  Remember, our media natives need guidance in order to use the devices and technology tools that are provided to them in our schools.  They need to be able to balance the use of technology with their own curiosity. 
Before this course, I was not familiar with digital technology terms that define a teacher’s use of technology to educate or facilitate the learning of their students.  As I delved into the definitions of the three terms presented in this course, technocrat, techno-traditionalist, and techno-constructivist, I encountered the possibility of being a techno-traditionalist.  I currently use technology to some extent, but I try to avoid it if this is an option.  I am hoping to become a techno-constructivist with many online projects that will allow my students view technology as an avenue to support their learning. 

 This course has undoubtedly refined my own views about popular culture.  I believe that as educators, it is our responsibility to guide students in making decisions about how they view the media and support them in navigating the Internet with caution.  My concerns about the media and popular culture implications have been refined.  I have multiple resources to guide me in providing my students with tools that will enable them to become critical thinkers as well as fluent media natives.   


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